A MAN cannot be even an amateur sailor until he knows his ropes. A great number of knots, hitches, bends, et cętera, are employed by sailors; but the skipper of a small fore-and-after will find that the different manipulations of cordage which we will now describe will suffice his needs.
The ropes in ordinary use are what are known as hawser-laid ropes, and are thus put together. Several threads of hemp, called yarns, are twisted together to form a strand. Three strands twisted together from right to left form the hawser-laid or right-handed rope.
What is called a cable-laid rope contains nine strands, that is, three ordinary right-handed ropes twisted together from left to right into one large rope. Right-handed rope must be coiled "with the sun" from right to left. Cable-laid ropes must be coiled from left to right.
The ends of all ropes should be whipped to prevent the strands from unravelling. This is done with spun-yarn or tarred twine. The twine is wound round the rope in such a way that both ends of the twine are covered, and so secured by the laps, and no knot is necessary. It is very easy to whip a rope's end, but very difficult to describe the process in such a way as to make one's self intelligible to one who has never seen it.
Where a rope is liable to be chafed, as in the eyes of the rigging, it is wormed, parcelled, and served. Fig. 2 will show how these operations are performed. Worming consists of laying spun-yarn between the strands, so as to fill up the spiral groove which every rope presents and obtain a smooth surface. Parcelling is wrapping narrow strips of tarred canvas over the worming, it is put on with the lay, that is,follows the direction of the strands. Serving a rope is the laying on of spun-yarn or other small stuff over the parcelling and worming. Service is put on against the lay of the rope. Before commencing to protect a rope in this way it should be stretched out as taut-as possible with tackle, and the worming, parcelling, and service should be laid on as tightly as possible. The service is hauled taut by a serving mallet. If the rope is a small one, it may be served without worming, as the grooves between the strands are not deep enough to cause great unevenness of surface.
Splicing, by which the ends of ropes are neatly and permanently joined, is a necessary accomplishment of the yachtsman, and is easily acquired.
A Short Splice (Fig. 3). — Unlay the strands of both rope ends for a little way. Interlace the three loose strands of one rope with the three loose strands of the other, so that each strand of one rope is between two strands of the opposite rope. Then force each strand under the next strand but one opposite to it, and draw all tight. Repeat this operation with each strand, and the splice is made; but to finish it off neatly, untwist each strand end, cut away half the yarns, and tuck in these reduced strands as before. A marline-spike or pricker is necessary to force open the strands under which the ends have to pass.
When two rope ends are joined by a Long Splice (Fig. 4), the joined portion is no thicker than the rest of the rope, and will reeve through any block that will admit that rope; this splice is therefore very useful for repairing a halyard that has broken. Unlay the ends of the two ropes for a distance six times greater than for a short splice, and place the strands together as for a short splice. Unlay one strand of one rope for a considerable distance further, and fill up the interval thus left with the opposite strand from the other rope. Repeat this process with one strand of the other rope. Where the opposite strands meet divide them, take an overhand knot in them, and tuck them in as in a short splice; but before cutting off the half-strands the rope should be well stretched.
The yachtsman will use the Eye Splice (Fig. 5) more frequently than any other. The end of the rope is bent round so as to form a loop of the required size and the unlaid strands are tucked into the rope exactly as in the short splice.
If one strand of an otherwise sound rope be cut through it can be replaced thus. Cut off about two feet of the injured strand. Take a somewhat greater length of a strand of the same size and lay it in the interval left by the the removed portion of injured strand, then proceed to halve the strands, knot and tuck in as in a long splice.
A Grommet (Fig. 6) is a rope ring. Unlay a strand, without stretching it and so disturbing the turns in it. Form a ring of the required size by bending the end round on to the standing part. Then wind the strand twice round this ring, fitting it carefully into the crevices, so that the ring then presents exactly the appearance of the original rope from which the strand was taken. Where the ends meet, take an overhand knot with them, halve the yarns, and tuck them in as in the long splice.
We now come to the various useful knots, bends, and hitches, all easy to acquire, but difficult to describe in words. However, if the reader will study the accompanying diagrams with a bit of rope in his hand, he will soon discover for himself how these knots are formed. They all serve their purpose admirably — that is, they are quickly made, are secure, and cannot slip, and yet are readily undone again.
We must explain that the standing part of a rope is the portion held in the hand; the bight is the loop made in tying the knot; the end is that extremity of the rope on which the knot is to be made.
First we have the common Overhand Knot (Fig. 7 ), to which we have already alluded.
A Common Bend (Fig. 10) will bend two ropes together. Take up the end of one rope into a bight, and pass the end of the other rope through the bight round both parts and under its own standing part. A common bend also serves to bend a rope into an eye spliced into the end of another rope. The signal halyards are thus bent on to the burgee.
A Carrick Bend (Fig. 11) will bend two ropes together more securely than the common bend.
When it is desired to fasten one rope on to the middle of another rope, so as to haul upon it, a Rolling Hitch must be used, as this, when jammed, cannot slip down the rope, and yet it is easily cast off again.
Fig. 12 represents a watch-tackle, witlh the tail of its upper block bent with a rolling hitch on to the ropeit is intended to pull upon, while the hook on its lower block is made fast with a Blackwall hitch.
A watch-tackle is a very handy tackle on board ship, and is used for a variety of purposes. A tail is strapped to the upper block and an iron hook to the lower block.
A very powerful purchase is obtained by using two watch- tackles in combination. This is done by making fast the tail of one watch-tackle to the hook on the lower block of the other tackle.
With a Blackwall Hitch a rope can be rapidly and securely fastened to a hook for a temporary purpose. The diagram will show how it is formed. The hitch is prevented from slipping by the jamming of the rope between its own standing part and the stem of the hook.
Two Half Hitches (Fig. 13) are very useful for bending a rope to a ring, a boat's painter to a post, and other purposes.
Where an easily running noose is required, a Running Bowline (Fig. 16) is useful.
A rope can be quickly bent on to a spar by means of Timber Hitch (Fig. 17), which does not readily slip.
A Topsail Halyard Bend (Fig. 18) is still less likely to slip.
In this case a description may assist the diagram. Take three turns round the spar; come back round the standing part; pass under all three turns, then over the last two turns and under the first turn.
The most secure way of fastening a hawser to a mooring-ring or dolphin is by means of the Fisherman's Bend (Fig.19). This is also one of the best ways of bending a hemp cable on to an anchor ring. When used for this last purpose it is well to seize the ends as shown in the diagram.
New rope, especially manilla rope, is very apt to twist itself up into loops or kinks. This tendency to kink can be prevented by stretching the rope well before using it.